Vinton Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet, urged on Wednesday a House committee working on major telecommunications legislation to ensure that broadband operators do not "dictate what people can do online."
Cerf's comments were submitted on behalf of his employer, search engine Google Inc., to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Cerf could not attend the meeting, due to his receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday at the White House. Robert Kahn, who with Cerf developed the Internet protocol TCP/IP that forms the foundation of the Internet, also received the award.
Cerf's comments related to concerns that as more people switch from dial-up connections to broadband, telephone companies and cable operators would make it difficult for subscribers to access services on the public Internet, pushing them instead toward their own products on private networks.
"As we move to a broadband environment and eliminate century-old non-discrimination requirements, a lightweight but enforceable neutrality rule is needed to ensure that the Internet continues to thrive," Cerf said. "Telephone companies cannot tell consumers who they can call; network operators should not dictate what people can do online."
Cerf argued that the Internet was built as a decentralized network that made it possible for anyone to connect, leading to an "explosion of offerings -- from VoIP to 802.11x Wi-Fi to blogging -- that might never have evolved had central control of the network been required by design."